What it’s like being a student at the University of Waterloo: Arts Faculty
The University of Waterloo is one of the most well-known respected Universities in Canada. It has a diverse range of programs as well as many resources available to students to use and further develop their learning. Many extracurricular activities so that students are not just buried in Academic work, but can also find more hobbies and make new friends. So far, it's like every other University.
The University’s true reputation lies in the Engineering and Math faculty. This is the reason that people apply to the University and every time I tell someone that I go to the University of Waterloo, the next follow up question is “Oh Engineering?”. Don’t get me wrong, the school’s engineering program is amazing, with a multitude of options and students who really work hard and it deserves its reputation. However, being an Art Student at this school… It is nothing to brag about.
I am a student at the University of Waterloo who just finished his second year in the Global Business & Digital Arts Program (more commonly known as GBDA) and who just recently switched into Legal Studies. My program is more of a unique kind, but I found that I got to experience what it's like to be a student in the Art faculty.
To describe what its like to be an Art student here, we are going to break it down from the academic standpoint and the social standpoint.
Academic: The great thing about being an Art student was the fact that we have space in our schedules for electives. In my first year, I had two electives in each term (total of four in the first year) where I took subjects such as Legal Studies and Sociology. I believe that when going into University, enter a program that is broad and allows you to explore what you want. Many people in University find that they are more interested in something else or find out that the program that they have entered is not right for them. Fortunately for me, I found that my current program (Global Business & Digital Arts) was not the right one for me and I had the opportunity to switch.
When it comes to the Art faculty itself and what they do for the students, it's nothing special. They host De-Stress events during exam seasons as well as have other events on campus, aid students and answer all the questions. They get the job done, but they do not go above and beyond.
Many of my art courses ended up being in the colleges that are affiliated with the University (St.Jerome’s, Renison). Most of my courses were there including Arts and language courses. Rarely was I on the main campus other than to get some food and meet with friends.
When I wanted to take some time to study on campus, I wound find myself in either the Library, Science buildings or Engineering buildings. They had more spaces, better aesthetic, better food options and overall more well known. Not many students know the Arts buildings unless they have a class in those buildings.
Social: I remember during Orientation week, I found myself extremely bored. I don’t think I even went for the second day and I spent my time preparing for my first day of classes. When I spoke with my friends from the other faculties, they had an amazing time and were very excited to tell me about their day and what activities they did. Honestly, the Arts faculty did not excel in this area, but all the activities were very cheesy and seem childish. The mind of a first-year is that we are finally grown up and free! So we would want to do something along those lines.
University is also the time to make new friends. I started in a new environment and did not know many people, especially who were in the same program as I was. Due to the fact that I had many electives, I had many opportunities to make new friends and multiple. With the exception of 1–2 courses, I had new people in every class who I was talking to and learning more about. Most of them were in a different program than I was, but still in the Art Faculty. This is, again, the great thing about going into a program that has many options.
Conclusion: If you are someone who is looking for the best Art school, know exactly what you want to be and want the best experience, this is not the school for you. However, if you are someone who is still figuring out what they want to do and keep options open, the University of Waterloo Arts Department is great. In terms of helping students, the staff is great, clear and quick. It took me a few backs and forth emails for me to switch programs. The faculty is diverse and inclusive making it fun and easy to meet new people. However, the University does seem to have some favouritism with the other programs in terms of nicer buildings and resources, but it is not as if you NEED them as a student. I believe that the University of Waterloo: Art Faculty is a great way to find out more about yourself and what you want to do.